Hon. Fausat Hassan Olajoku, until her appointment as the Executive Secretary of Ijaiye Ojokoro Local Council Development Area of Lagos state, was a two term Vice Chairman of the LCDA. One of a few female politicians who have distinguished themselves in politics, Olajoku spoke with Omotolani Alamu and Sunday Rotilefon. Excerpts:
Tell us about your journey into politics?
I am from a political home. My father was a politician and I got married to a politician too, Alhaji Alabi S. Hassan Olajoku, he was a chieftain of AD (Alliance for Democracy). I have been into politics all my life. I started politics in Lagos state in 1980.
What are your political antecedents?
I was a Councilor. I was a Supervisor. I was a two term Vice Chairman and I’m now the Executive Secretary of this council.
We learnt that you are contesting for the chairmanship of Ijaiye Ojokoro LCDA?
I am here as the Executive Secretary and I want to face the work given to me squarely. When I am done with this, I know that I will go further.
We have seen some banners outside indicating your interest.
It is not time the proper time to contest. There is no directive yet. The banner you saw outside is to congratulate the people of Ojokoro for voting for our people in the last election. Yes, the interest is there anyway and somebody that is around politics and it runs in the house and it is part of you and I told you that my late husband was a chieftain for AD, now APC. I have been in politics all my life because I was like a secretary to him. I will go to school and I was even doing politics because I married.
When I was in secondary, we had a group called congress of young dynamic ladies. We were Muslim girls, even though it was a mixed school. If anything was going on in school, we were the ones they will call. When I got to higher school, because I was married, I was not that active in school politics but I was active in state politics.
How will you compare when you came on board as Vice chairman and now?
I served during the dispensation of Hon Adeola Afolabi as a councillor and there was progress. You know this area is semi-rural and no matter what you do, you cannot really feel the impact. For example, we have graded about 30 street roads since January and when rain came, it just destroyed most of our works. Except for hard concrete drainage that was done, you might not see what people have done. In terms of health, we are improving
We understood that the LCDA has awarded Adetola road contract twice?
I was asked to give a list of roads to be constructed and I have given them at Alausa. Nobody has told me that the road has been contracted, though I think it is going to be done. We undertook palliative measures on our link roads during the administration of former governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola. That is what happened to Adetola road, not that it was awarded as a full contract.
Tell us about Iyaniwura Foundation?
It is a Non- Governmental organization (NGO) that we do to benefit people. I have Iyaniwura Initiative and I have Grassroot Women Orphan Widows Initiative too. Iyaniwura has to do with young ladies and people who are less privileged. The other has to do mostly with widows and the orphans.
How have you been able to use the initiatives to empower people?
The Orphan and Widows Initiative started in 1987. I just like to the less privileged. That has been my plan for a very long time. I started the NGO, even though I never knew I was going to become a widow too. But I was helping them, giving them foods, encouraging them and looking at their health needs, as most of them cannot afford to pay hospital bills. We observe that most of them have Hypertension and diabetes, which is also very common among women.
Do you have any support from the Government?
Before the death of my husband, he was really helping me. But after he died, I have not gotten any support from any government quarters. I am doing it alone. I finance the initiatives through my company and by myself.
How do you combine your job with the running of the NGOs?
It is not stressful to me because I like the work. I enjoy doing it. The NGO is an organization that meets once in a month. I set aside time for them to attend meetings. There is a purse for the running of the NGOs by my company, which I inherited from my late husband. We have been doing it when he was alive and we are still doing it now. We put money there every month to take care of the NGOs.
How do you assist the widows?
They are in various categories. There is a class that can pay school fees and make livings. There are some that their children can take care of them and there are some whose husbands died very early and those are the problematic widows. They cannot handle their children. Most of the widows, the family of their husbands always abandon them. They will be after the properties of their late brothers. Most of them are driven away from their husbands’ house. In that situation, we try to provide shelter for them and provide job like petty trading to keep them busy. Some of them who are legally married and the wealth is there, we support them to go to court and get them lawyers.
What are your challenges of being a politician and a mother?
When my husband was alive, he was a politician. He allowed me to attend meetings and participate actively in politics. I don’t really have any much challenge because my children are growing up. I am taking care of my home very well.
What is your view about poor performance by the Local Government?
Local governments are working. We have graded about 30 roads and provided benches and chairs for schools. We have done toilets, and we have rehabilitated our primary health center at Ajegunle. We are also working on five culverts in the council since I came on board. We have done a lot in educating children by bringing them together. We provide free GCE forms, among others. We have street sweepers in the local government; we want to know where they are working, what is their problems and challenges, health status, so that the environment can be cleaned always.
What are you doing to strengthen security situation in the LCDA?
Ojokoro is very peaceful when you compare with other areas. We hold our security meetings twice in a month. We meet with DPOs and other security personnel in the LCDA. The crime rate is very low.
What is the next step in your political career?
Politicians are like soldiers. They too have ranks. We grow in politics too. First thing is to be hard working; you have to be articulate, good to the people, transparent and be informed. I was councilor to supervisor, vice chairman and now Executive Secretary. Definitely, I am going to go up. When I’m finish with this position, I am going to forge ahead.
What are the major challenges of the local government?
The major challenge is development. Like I told you, Ojokoro is a semi-rural area. We need a lot of infrastructure development here such as roads and other amenities. We are getting there gradually.
Also, fund is also important to any development. I think with the coming in of the progressives, we should be expecting a lot of change in the system of funding and development.
The state is doing a lot in the LCDAs. There some roads which we cannot do as a local government, but the state government is helping us. Our new governor, Akinwumi Ambode has asked us to send him a list of 20 roads in each of the 52 local governments and LCDAs. That the work will soon begin. All the state roads will be done. We are going to embark on the drainages before we start constructing the roads.